A 3-0 whitewash is never comforting. Yet, amidst the darkness, you can sometimes see motes of light.
The reemergence of Deepak Chahar as a skilful new-ball bowler who can also wield the bat usefully down the order is a positive for India, even if it arrived in the thrilling last game.
Chahar is now what Bhuvneshwar Kumar was four years back. He moves the ball both ways at a brisk pace, gets the early breakthroughs, and bats with strokes and resolve.
The feisty Chahar ticks a box for India in its quest to find a `complete’ team for the 2023 ODI World Cup.
India’s search for a pace-bowling all-rounder is heading nowhere with Hardik Pandya picking up a chronic back injury.
And Venkatesh Iyer, he deserves a longer run, is more a batter who can bowl handy medium pace.
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Instead, if India can pick seamers who can be effective with the bat too, men such as Shardul Thakur and Deepak Chahar, the team could yet find the balance and the depth.
Of course Jasprit Bumrah will lend the attack a cutting edge. If the seamers around him can produce runs, India will be able to bat deep.
This is the era of ‘Total Cricket’ in the shorter formats, and bowlers are expected to bat.
India missed Washington Sundar, who picked up COVID-19, before the series. Washington is parsimonious with his off-spin and is a southpaw with grace, footwork and timing.
The middle-order was a problem area for India and Shreyas Iyer needed to score more than just 54 runs from three innings.
And Virat Kohli has to rediscover the habit of winning matches for India on the chase rather than playing an attractive innings but falling well short of the target.
Comeback man Shikhar Dhawan - the leading run-scorer for India with 169 in three matches - brought his left-handed flair and experience to the top of the order.
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But then, his partner, stand-in skipper KL Rahul had a lacklustre series. Once Rohit Sharma returns, Rahul may be shifted to a middle-order role.
For South Africa, Janneman Malan, an elegant top-order stroke-maker, was the find of the series, while Quinton de Kock reaffirmed why he is such a dangerous white-ball player with a whopping 229 runs in the series.
Coming to captaincy, Rahul is still a work-in-progress. And given Rohit Sharma’s fitness issues, it is hard to see him lead the country in all three formats.
The explosive Rishabh Pant is brilliant one moment, reckless the next. Will giving him captaincy instill a sense of responsibility in this marauder? Such gambits have worked in cricket.
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